Tim Pittman

Customer Success as Product Management

Product Managers know the importance of customer feedback to iterate and plan a product roadmap. But as a former CSM and team lead, I experienced first hand the huge opportunity lost in not leveraging CSMs as a source of customer & product feedback.

Consider that your team of 3 or 4 CSMs each may have 20-50 clients in their portfolio. That means on any given week they may be speaking with, as a whole, 20+ customers. I bet most PMs out there don’t have the time or inclination to speak with so many customers. In worst case scenarios, they rarely speak to customers and build things in isolation.

Each of these customer conversations are geared towards two things: building relationships and moving customers higher up the acent of success. Part of this ascent should very well consider how customers modify their behaviors or business processes to use your product to become successful.

A few examples:

  1. Before I just created tons of to-do’s. But now I create projects & tags to organize my tasks and be more productive.
  2. Before I just used google analytics. But with your app I setup simple events to track my campaigns more effectively.
  3. Before I just created a popup. Now I A/B test headlines & run givewaways to boost opt-in rates.

These all require changes in behavior. That behavior involves using your product in a certain way to solve a problem. And your product - believe it or not - is not frictionless. It requires effort to use your product in a way that creates success. Otherwise why even hire CSMs? Your app, its best practices, and ROI would be transparent.

With bad apps, your login is even difficult. With the best apps, its just pretty complicated and requires guidance.

The key for the CSM is to eliminate this friction as best as possible. Thus as a PM its vital to understand what that friction is, how your CSMs work through it, and how you can lower that friction with your product as much as possible.

PMs out there should really consider establishing a strong feedback loop with CSMs or CS leads to track these areas of friction & their trends over time. Over time you can find this improves TTV (time to value), frees up CSMs to do higher value work, and makes customers more successful.